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It's the ethics, stupid.

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ElboRuum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-09-06 11:26 AM
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It's the ethics, stupid.
I could go on, quite literally, for hours on the things that bother me about the current administration, the current congress, and the general attitude of the country right now. If you asked those who have been unfortunate enough to broach the topic of "politics" with me at any time within the past 6 years, you would have positive confirmation of the fact that I spend quite a great deal of my free time fuming about the states of affairs and the utter frustration I feel at the simple and potent inability of those in whatever measure of authority to do what any sane and reasonable person would call "the right thing".

Some have suggested that I put up or shut up and run for office if it bothers me so much, but I'm under no illusions about "public service" these days: if I am corruptible, it will do no good for me to run, and if I am not, I wouldn't last five minutes in any such capacity. I'd probably resign within a week with the following reason: "Washington D.C. is just batshit insane, full of loathesome asshats, and any delusions I had about making any sort of difference on your, my constituents', behalf were trammeled by a brutish reality check the second I stepped into the Capital."

No, I don't loathe myself quite enough to sell my soul quite yet.

So, I have to resign myself to keep talking about things, hoping to educate those who interminably resist the call of reason. Sisyphean efforts these are, and that boulder keeps rolling over me.

Like I said, I could sit here for hours, rattling off the laundry list of things I detest about our current political leadership, their willing accomplices, etc. Ultimately, I had to recognize that the list is getting too long to discuss briefly, so in order to make it possible to have a directed conversation about any one part of it means that I must consolidate all of these things into a single, overarching concern. I couldn't get it down into one, but I did manage to consolidate them into a broad few, enough to count on one hand. The one which has particular relevance to me is as follows:

"It's the ethics, stupid."

We are a nation of people who exist in a very judgmental culture. That culture of judgment values the precept of justice over the precept of leniency. In rare cases, this value of justice extends into the realm of overreach, so it should be clear that we, as a people, are not interested in the apology... we are interested in the punishment. We are interested in just desserts.

I will refrain from giving my own opinion of what I think of that particular mindset, but suffice it to say that I do believe that you have no right to expect the best of people if you are only going to notice them when they do their worst.

But that is the culture we have adapted to, and for better or worse, we are now, if only temporarily, stuck with it. We are a nation that loves the rule and abhors the exception. And we watch gleefully, as the exceptions to the rule scrabble to get out from under the falling grand piano of justice.

If we, as a people, must live under a banner of zero tolerance, where no mistake is small and forgivable, where the slightest word or deed which runs afoul of the common zeitgeist must be visited upon with punishment that is often well in excess of the crime, where the very act of living itself is less a journey of learning and understanding and more a minefield where the slightest misstep can lead to an ignominious end, it should be reasonably and well expected that all must be held equally accountable for their transgressions. We are interested in that justice, are we not?

Or are we?

Is it, perchance, more along the lines of justice for our enemies, leniency for our friends?

And here is where the American people deserve better. You have in Mark Foley an archetype, the poster child for dishonorable acts of self-preservation. What he is or is not is of no concern to his friends or supporters, it is a matter of who he is. Nevermind that he has led the charge to protect those he's preyed upon. Nevermind that you can cut that irony with a knife. Where is the desire for justice among his supporters? How many of them really care about what he's done? How many of them are likely to think that the Democrats are simply blowing things out of proportion? How many of them are likely to put their own Schadenfreude-laden political bloodlust on hold just long enough to forgive this man and show pity on him?

And I think that's it.

Putting Foley aside, if any private citizen defied ethics and morality to the point of criminality, like much of our existing administration and Congress has, they'd be spirited away by our judicial system in short step. They'd forfeit their livelihoods and possibly even their freedom, and become another sad statistic in the U.S. Fucking A Today (bonus points for getting the reference).

That Washington is corrupt and its denizens are power-hungry is no shock to the American people. But I do believe they are getting tired of being held to a higher standard than those they've elected. I do believe that the American people have a right to expect a certain level of honor and decorum in these inscrutably lofty places. Leaders should set an example for their followers, but here, the American people, by being subject to the punishments that their leaders can,with the wave of a hand, have a reasonable chance to avoid, are setting the standard. This is not a desirable position to be in.

Perhaps this out-of-kilter scale is swinging back toward equilibrium. A lot of people look like they're at least going to get scraped up a little from this Foley cover-up. Maybe the American people, too, are starting to feel like they're carrying a little too much of the moral load in this country. I'd prefer that we'd go a little easier on each other, be a little more tolerant, and a little less quick to pick blame, but if we must adhere to the zero-tolerance policy, then I think that the people want their leadership beholden to it as well.
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